Students and Prevent: Towards new models of citizenship

Authors: Parker, J.

Start date: 3 November 2015

This paperseeks to analyse some of the social and political complexities in respect of citizenship that have arisen from the implementation of the UK counter-terrorism strategy Prevent. This will be considered particularly in terms of the consequences for students and citizenship. A brief outline of the revised Prevent duty and its specific implications for higher education and students will be offered. This outline will be set within the context of discussion of the Conservative Party’s intent, as exemplified through David Cameron’s July 2015 speech concerning extremism and the subsequent counter-extremism strategy launched in October 2015. Some of the potential ramifications of these policy initiatives will be explored through a case study relating to a postgraduate student’s experience under Prevent. This will be followed by an analysis of meanings of citizenship and examined further in respect of contemporary students in higher education in the UK. It will be suggested that Weber’s iron cage has been padded with velvet and that self-monitoring and governmentality is promoted and legitimised within a securitised society as students move through a ritual-like process at university to become citizen or non-citizen depending on the choices made throughout their time in higher education. This process will be argued as potentially restricting free exploration and socio-political dissent and valuing only the homogenised mimicry of purported ‘good citizenship’.

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